Project Highlights

The Reef Recovery Initiative has made tremendous advances in the past two years, including the creation of:
World class genomic library for coral reefs and the oceans;
Frozen coral repository that includes coral from two of the three major oceans in the world. These frozen biobanks provide a major hedge against extinction for corals facing the damaging effects of climate change, disease and loss of genetic diversity;
Innovations in cryo-technology that are pushing the boundaries of physics and biology to eventually include more types of tissues in our banks, such as eggs and embryos of many aquatic organisms (previously unpreservable!);
Changes in how the Smithsonian thinks and creates its collections. The Smithsonian is the first major museum in the world to consistently create and hold frozen collections for a wide variety of organisms, especially for reefs; and
Application of creative conservation solutions for reefs that now can be used worldwide.
Topics: Global Change

Smithsonian marine biologist, Dr. Mary Hagedorn, is leading a global network of scientists in one of the most unique ocean-conservation programs in the world today, called the Reef Recovery Initiative which focuses on cryopreservation of marine species. Although conservation practices, such as marine protected areas, may help reduce the loss of genetic diversity on reefs, they are not enough! The global effects of climate change will continue to erode reefs worldwide, causing a continued decline in population numbers and loss of biodiversity. Conservation techniques, such as genetic banks using frozen samples hold strong promise to help offset these threats. These stored cells remain frozen, but alive, in liquid nitrogen- safe for hundreds of years. There are very few cryopreserved species collections utilized specifically for conservation, much less one for oceanic species. Moreover, as the only group of scientists in the world both developing and applying this modern technology to help reefs, their work is crucial.